Volatile stock markets and uncertain economic conditions can be stressful and unsettling.  Investors usually ask what they should do during turbulent times.  Below are some tips Fidelity Investments offers to navigate volatile markets.

  1. Keep your perspective:  Downturns are normal

On average since 1926, stocks have dipped into bear market territory every 6 years with losses averaging almost 40%.  While market downturns may be unsettling, history shows stocks have recovered and delivered long-term gains.  Despite market pullbacks, stocks have risen over the long term.

  1.  Have a Financial Plan you can live with – through market ups and downs

Your mix of stocks, bonds, and short-term investments will determine your potential returns, but also the likely swings in your portfolio.  Pick an investment mix that aligns with your goals, timeframe, and financial situation that you can stick with despite market volatility.  Choose an investment mix you are comfortable with.

  1.  Focus on time in the market – not trying to time the market

It can be tempting to try to sell out of stocks to avoid downturns, but it’s hard to time it right.  If you sell and are still on the sidelines during a recovery, it can be difficult to catch up.  Missing even a few of the best days in the market can significantly undermine your performance.  Missing out on the best days can be costly.

  1. Invest consistently, even in bad times.

Some of the best times to buy stocks have been when things seemed the worst.  Consistent investing can give you the discipline to buy stocks when they are at their cheapest.  Consider setting up an automatic investment plan.  Investing during recessions has historically led to strong investment results.

  1. Consult with your financial advisor

Down markets may be a good time to meet with your advisor to answer your questions, discuss adjusting your investment mix or examine opportunities when prices are low.

Source:  Fidelity.com

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.  Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Comments and Opinions

The First Quarter, 2022 brought major pressures on both the US and Global stages. Although we began to move forward in the recovery from the last two years of the pandemic, rising inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain issues impacted consumers and the stock markets. In March, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought humanitarian crises, global economic and political upheaval, and stock market uncertainty.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of March, 2022, inflation rose 8.5% over the last 12 months – a 40 year high. Gas, food, and housing were the biggest inflationary drivers putting pressure on consumers. The root causes of this inflation stem from historic government spending, continuing supply chain disruptions, and strong consumer demand.

The uncertainty of the above situations impacts our economy and the stock markets. Markets do not like uncertainty and volatility is the result. U.S. stocks recorded the first quarterly decline since the onset of the Covid pandemic in the first quarter of 2022. Source: NASDAQ. The US Gross Domestic Product was down 1.4% a reversal from an annual 6.9% growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2021. Source: Wall Street Journal

Although the US faces challenges and there is talk of recession, some believe the economy remains strong and can return to modest growth going forward. Consumer spending is strong as Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted. According to Morningstar, the Federal Reserve’s shift to tighter monetary policy increases confidence that high inflation will be tamed. Markets are now pricing in an increase in the federal-funds rate to 2.5% by the end of 2022, a much more aggressive pace of tightening than previously expected. This will come at the cost of slightly slower near-term GDP growth, but they don’t believe a recession is on the horizon.

Source: Morningstar, Quarter End Insights, April 1, 2022

As we watch and wait in a volatile market environment investors should review their portfolio’s asset allocation, risk suitability and risk tolerance to make sure their plan is on track to meet their financial goals.

Market Volatility: Check Your Emotions at the Door.”

The following article is taken from the Investor Insights page on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s website:

https://www.finra.org/investors/insights/market-volatiliy-check-emotions-door

Volatile markets can inspire feelings of fear and anxiety among investors. The market surges and sags that we experience can be for any number of reasons—trade policy concerns, tax breaks, inflation fears, economic optimism, concern of a global pandemic or a recession watch. The stock market reacts, and sometimes so do we. It raises the question: what should you do in times of volatile markets? In many situations, the answer is sit tight, and take the long view.

“One enduring truth about stock markets is that they go up, and they go down—and the steeper the rise or the fall, the more tempting it can be to derail a long-term strategy with a snap decision,” said Gerri Walsh, FINRA’s Senior Vice President of Investor Education. “Especially when markets fall sharply, we tend to react on impulse. Before that becomes your reaction to market volatility, focus first on your goals and your investment timeframe.”

Investors who need short-term liquidity—for example, if you plan to make a large purchase such as a house or a car, or you know a tuition bill is about to come due—will likely want to pursue a different path than investors who do not need cash right away. All else being equal, the latter group might be better able to stomach volatility in the short term. But any investor who cannot bear the thought of—or cannot afford—locking in losses in times of volatility may want to explore less volatile alternatives to help secure their portfolio’s value.

“Talk to your investment professional,” said Walsh. “And consider the broader consequences. How does any action you choose to take in the moment impact your portfolio in the future? What are the tax consequences? Before you make any decisions regarding your investments, it’s important that you keep your emotions in check and understand what is going on.” Whether any given day’s drop reflects a market correction, an anomaly or the beginning of a bear market can take time to figure out – and is outside the control of any one investor. So control what you can – and focus on key investing concepts such as staying diversified and rebalancing to stay aligned with your goals.

The performance quoted herein represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors cannot invest directly in an Index and performance represents gross returns without net fees if any.

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.

Comments and Opinions

The Third Quarter of 2021 began with optimism, fueled by increasing vaccination rates, employees returning to work, and schools and businesses re-opening.  The stock markets were strong in the first half of the quarter – reaching all-time highs.  However, the markets ended the quarter on a pessimistic note.  A surge in covid-19 Delta variant cases, increasing supply chain problems with warnings of possible shortages of goods for the holiday season, and continuing inflation slowed economic growth and erased earlier market gains. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the quarter down 1.5%, the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.2% and the S&P 500 closed up 0.6%.  However, each of these indices remain positive year-to-date with the DJIA up 12.1%, the S&P 500 up 15.9%, and the Nasdaq up 12.7%. 

Source: nasdaq.com 

Historically, the month of September has produced weak stock market returns. Some analysts believe that the negative “September Effect” on markets can be attributed to seasonal behavioral bias as investors change their portfolios at the end of summer to cash in. Another reason could be that most mutual funds cash in their holdings to harvest tax losses. There is a statistical case for the September effect depending on the period analyzed, but much of the theory is anecdotal. 

Source:  Investopedia September 09, 2021

In the Fourth Quarter, markets will be focused on the continued progress of reopening, the Federal Reserve’s expected tightening of monetary policy, inflation, and future tax policy to name a few issues.  Year-end is a good time to review your portfolios, rebalance if necessary, and consult with your tax professional regarding any losses in your non-retirement accounts.  Please call our office with any questions or concerns.

Estate Planning

October 18th to the 24th, 2021 was designated National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  Estate planning is an often overlooked element of financial wellness. It is estimated that over half of Americans – 56% – do not have an up-to-date estate plan. Source:  www.naepc.org 

Estate planning is not just a tool for wealthy individuals and families.   Whether your finances are complicated or more simple everyone should have a plan that determines the way their assets are to be distributed after their death. 

A basic estate plan should include: 

  1. Will or Trust
  2. Health Care Proxy on file with your health professionals
  3. Durable Power of Attorney
  4. Beneficiary Designations for your retirement accounts
  5. Transfer on Death registrations for your non-retirement accounts
  6. Appointment of a Personal Representative or Executor/Executrix to administer your estate.
  7. Gifting Plan if applicable

These basic building blocks of an estate plan should be periodically reviewed and updated if necessary.  Your Personal Representative should have access to the necessary information.  A well-thought-out plan can avoid family disputes, litigation, excess estate taxes, and court costs.  Discussing the plan and communicating your wishes to your family may serve to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.

The performance quoted herein represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors cannot invest directly in an Index and performance represents gross returns without net fees if any.

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.

Comments & Opinions

A year ago at the end of the Second Quarter of 2020, we were in an economic and social lockdown brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The US and most of the world were under severe restrictions.  It’s been a long year.  Now, due to the availability of Covid-19 vaccines and behavioral changes in society, we have witnessed strong rebounds in the US and global economies along with lessening of social restrictions. 

US equity benchmarks closed the first half of 2021 at or near record highs as the economy reopened and more people returned to work.  The S&P 500 ended the first half of the year up 15.2%, the DJIA was up 13.8%, and the NASDAQ Composite finished the first half of the year up 12.9%.  Historic fiscal and monetary stimulus has provided a consistent tailwind since the Spring of 2020, and there is little evidence those efforts will be removed anytime soon. Source:  NASDAQ.com July 1, 2021

Going forward, we believe the main challenges for the economic recovery may be the spike in the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant and the possibility of new restrictions, continuing inflation for products and services across the board, and the Federal Reserve’s response to these inflationary pressures.  The question of whether price increases are “transitory” or long-term is yet to be seen. 

Fed Chairman Powell stated on July 27th, that inflation will likely remain elevated in the coming months before moderating.  He also said the Fed will not raise rates or begin tapering the purchase of Treasury and mortgage bonds that provide stimulus to the economy until they see “substantial further progress” toward their goal of low unemployment and stable inflation. Source:  Wall Street Journal, 07/28/2021

We recommend a review of your investment portfolio and financial plan to determine if any adjustments are needed for your short-term and long-term goals.  Please call our office to schedule a meeting at 508-240-0320.

INFLATION

What, Why, When?

Inflation can be defined as the rise in prices for goods and services and the decline in the purchasing power of money.  Three of the main reasons that contribute to inflation are an increase in the money supply, the resulting decline in the value of the Dollar, and a disruption in the supply chain for goods and services.  All three of these have occurred since the beginning stages of the pandemic.

The Federal government and the Federal Reserve rapidly infused the economy with stimulus money.  Trillions of dollars were printed to provide individuals and businesses with money to keep the economy functioning and the Federal Reserve began purchasing assets in order to inject liquidity into the economy.

A large, rapid increase in the money supply reduces the value of each dollar and therefore, the cost of goods goes up. Companies pay more for their supplies and they pass the cost on to the consumer.

Production of goods slowed during the pandemic due to employees becoming ill and wide-reaching economic shutdowns.   Supply chains for imports, especially from China, were disrupted and this significantly impacted the price and availability of goods.  

Too much money chasing too few goods = Inflation

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.

Comments and Opinions At the beginning of January, 2020 we were entering what would become a global pandemic with far reaching personal, social, political, and economic consequences. At the beginning of January, 2021 we began to see the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel.  Optimism rose over the increased availability of vaccines, another […]

COMMENTS AND OPINIONS

2020 was one of the most difficult and challenging years in recent history.  The Covid-19 pandemic, political unrest, social strife, and economic uncertainty were and continue to be major challenges we face in the US and around the world.  Going forward into 2021 we wish you and your families a hopeful, safe, and a Happy New Year.

The final quarter of 2020 produced both good and bad results.  COVID-19 vaccines were approved for health providers, first responders and high risk senior citizens here and abroad.  New treatments and additional vaccines continue to move through the pipeline.  There were and continue to be some vaccine detractors, who feel that the COVID-19 vaccines were introduced too soon, without adequate testing.  The majority of health professionals appeared to approve the vaccines.

As for the markets:  “Following the trend throughout the year, large U.S. companies have continued to post positive results.  The S&P 500, which tracks the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., was up 12.15% on the quarter and 18.4% for the year.  While the S&P 500 tends to be oriented heavily towards large growth stocks (like technology), the announcement of a COVID-19 vaccination reversed the trend of growth stocks outperforming value stocks (like blue-chip companies).  The equal-weighted S&P 500, which is more representative of the entire market, including value stocks, was up 18.46% on the quarter and 12.83% for the year, narrowing the gap between the two styles.  The Russell 2000, which tracks the performance of U.S. small companies, reached an all-time high. Rising 31.37% for the quarter it finished the year positive at 20.02%.”    

SOURCE: the Slaughter Associates Investment Committee, January 5, 2021

Last year, 2020, started off with a bang.  Our economy was very healthy. Stocks were moving steadily upward.  Interest rates were still very low.  Housing was also doing well.  Then came COVID-19 and the fallout.

Some parts of our economy did well and benefited from the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.  Many very large corporations, prospered October through December, 2020.  For example, Walmart continued to be granted permission allowing their customers to enter their stores in most states.  Small companies, a cornerstone of our economy, suffered with many businesses having to close their doors forever.  Family-owned shops and stores, like hair salons, bars, smaller restaurants and service companies, had restrictions placed on the numbers of customers who could enter their premises and how many days they could be open for business.  High Tech firms benefitted from the lock-down. Shipments of goods, especially electronic products, increased.  Sales of locally sold products and services decreased.  Commerce continued via on-line buying as Amazon and other similar firms benefited.  We look forward to the healthy return of shopping local and the continued support of local businesses.

In the New Year, we believe developing a financial plan is more important than ever.  Critical components of a plan are sustainable wealth and generational planning.  Inherited assets may provide younger generations the ability to purchase a home or avoid student loans and other long-term debt.  However, maintaining assets over generations can be challenging.   A good financial plan can provide a roadmap to overcoming the pitfalls.  Please call our office for more information on how we can assist in developing a sustainable generational plan for you and your family.

Stay connected with us by visiting our website www.brimmerfinancial.com,

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or

Comments and Opinions

Second Quarter, 2020

As we enter the second half of 2020 we hope you and your family are doing well as we continue to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 virus on health, employment, businesses, the stock markets, and our way of life in general.  We have witnessed how national and local governments closed down their economies and restricted the movements of their citizens triggering a financial crisis as a result of a severe world-wide health threat.

In response to the crisis, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020.  The CARES Actis a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill which primarily includes $300 billion in one-time cash payments to individual Americans, $260 billion in increased unemployment benefits, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program that provides forgivable loans to small businesses with an initial $350 billion in funding (later increased to $669 billion by subsequent legislation), $500 billion in aid for large corporations, and $339.8 billion to state and local governments.  The US Federal Reserve also acted swiftly by lowering interest rates and providing unprecedented liquidity to financial markets to ensure they would continue to function efficiently. The Fed is expected to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future.  More stimulus funding is expected. This aid, while necessary in the short term, adds to our ever-growing national debt in the long term.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US unemployment rate as of February, 2020 was 3.5%.  In April, 2020 the Bureau reported the unemployment rate at 14.7%, the highest rate and largest month-to-month increase in the history of the data (available back to January, 1948). According to the Small Business Administration, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the USA which account for 99.9% of all US businesses. The SBA also reports small companies have been responsible for creating 1.5 million jobs annually and account for 64% of new jobs created in the United States. 

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.  Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

The shutdown has severely impacted specific industries such as retail, hospitality, transportation, travel and tourism.  Small business owners have been sharply affected.  With the lessening of state and local restrictions these small business are working to adapt to new regulations and rules and fighting to keep their businesses alive.

Along with the bad news in the Second Quarter, there has been some good news.  Research has been progressing in the development of treatments and a vaccine. States have begun to reopen for business, employees have been returning to work, people have begun to resume travel and some of their usual activities.  Going forward, each State will have to find a balance between increased economic activity and the increase of Covid-19 cases that may put their citizens at risk and stress their healthcare systems.

Stock markets rebounded in the Second Quarter.  The S&P 500 closed at 3100.29 on June 30th, up from the March 31st close of 2584.59, a gain of 20%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 25,812.88 on June 30th a 17.8% gain from its close of 21,917.16 on March 31st., and the NASDAQ Composite ended the Second Quarter at 10,058.77 gaining 30.6% from its close of 7700.10 at the end of the First Quarter, 2020.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results

It is said that stock markets are forward-looking.  Markets may be looking to the economic future with encouragement from current research for treatment and a vaccine, the increase of testing capabilities, and progress toward the gradual reopening of the US economy.  We believe volatility will continue in the stock markets with new spikes of virus cases in certain areas of the country, the current divisive social and political climate, upcoming national elections in November, and residual damage that has been done to the economy.

Overall, we remain optimistic in the long-term and feel confident that the US and the economy will weather the storm caused by the pandemic as we have weathered many other challenges in the past.  However, with the recent volatility in the markets, we strongly recommend our clients call us to schedule a time to review their accounts.  We can help you determine if your portfolio’s asset allocation meets your current financial goals and needs or if rebalancing is in order.  We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns.

*We are updating client email addresses and it is important that we have your current email address.  Please call us if you have changed your email address or to confirm we have yours on file.

The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.  Opinions are subject to change with market conditions. The views and strategies may not be suitable for all investors and are not intended to be relied on for legal or tax advice.

First Quarter 2020

Comments and Opinions

The longest bull market in US stock market history ended suddenly this quarter with the emergence of Covid-19, a novel coronavirus, originating in China and growing into a global pandemic.  The effects of this pandemic have changed our lives both socially and economically in ways we could not imagine just several short months ago.

We are now Socially Distancing and isolating ourselves to prevent the spread of the virus.  Schools have closed, many employees are working from home, travel has been disrupted, many small businesses have had to close for the foreseeable future, and first responders and medical personnel are battling equipment shortages and placing themselves in danger.

The economic fallout from this has yet to be determined.  Corporate earnings and unemployment for February and March will reflect the immediate toll the virus has taken on our economy.  The impact will stretch into the Second Quarter and beyond.  Market volatility will most likely continue during the uncertainty and recession is likely.

However, research on a vaccine has been ramped up across the world, Congress has passed the

CARES Act Economic Relief Plan (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.), corporations are working to adapt and provide needed equipment and supplies to hospitals, and communities and individuals are doing their part to help those affected.  

Our healthy economy was shut down out of necessity to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  Once it becomes clear that the rate of new infection has begun to flatten we feel that confidence will begin to return and the engine of the economy will start to ramp up.  Looking ahead, businesses will reopen, employees will return to work, and people will create demand for goods and services.  As we wait for this to happen, we believe our value as your financial advisors is most important during these difficult times.  We have weathered difficult economic situations in the past and are here to advise you now and going forward.

We urge you to become informed on the provisions of the CARES Act and how it may apply to you or your business.  Please be aware that Section 2203 of the CARES Act provides a Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for year 2020 for most retirement plans.  We recommend you consult your tax professional before making any changes to your retirement distributions.

We hope the charts on page two are helpful in providing you with some perspective and we encourage our clients to call us with their questions and concerns at #508-240-0320.

This is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or an offer or solicitation of any products or services. Opinions are subject to change with market conditions. The views and strategies may not be suitable for all investors and are not intended to be relied on for legal or tax advice. Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

A BRANCH OF NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION · 59 FINLAY ROAD, PO BOX 2806, ORLEANS, MA  02653

Tel:  (508) 240-0320      FAX:  (508) 240-2309    www.brimmerfinancial.com

Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.

Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

FOURTH QUARTER, 2019   –    COMMENTS AND OPINIONS

“Great learning and superior abilities…will be of little value and small estimation unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them.”  – Abigail Adams, 2nd First Lady of the United States

The Santa of Economic Good Things left a lot of presents under the tree at the end of the Fourth Quarter.  With only a few exceptions, such as home buying in the U.S., the packages were bigger this Christmastime.  The U.S. and many foreign stock markets gained appreciably during the last quarter of 2019.  The S&P 500 Index increased by 8.53%. (1)  Gold and oil increased in value.  China and the U.S. announced a pending agreement, to be signed on January 15th, which will cancel a scheduled 15% tariff on Chinese goods.  China has agreed to buy more American farm products.  We are already buying more from them than they buy from us.  This is Phase One of a larger agreement.  It sets the tone on addressing the very important issue of protecting U.S. intellectual property in China.  The theft of industrial and national secrets has been a serious overhanging problem that has not been solved to date.  This early portion of the Sino-American trade agreement has been greeted by the markets very favorably.  No one wants a trade war. 

Our Federal Reserve made its third interest rate cut of the year in October.  Then the Fed signaled that it may not adjust short-term interest rates during 2020.  Currently the Federal Funds Rate is in the neighborhood of 1.50% to 1.75%.  The U.S. Dept. of Labor offered presents with happy news inside.  During October employers added 156,000 new jobs.  During November we gained 266,000 new jobs.  December saw an increase of 145,000 new jobs. (2) 

There are several official unemployment numbers issued by the U.S. Labor Dept.  The most commonly used report is called U-3.  This counts unemployed workers who are seeking work.  U-3 was 3.6% of the workforce in October and 3.5% in November.  These are extremely good numbers.  The most accurate indicator is U-6.  This number is higher because it includes all workers who are either unemployed or under-employed.  U-6 was 7.0% in October and 6.9% in November (3) – very good numbers indeed.  “The trend is our friend” is an old and well-loved mantra of the markets.  At the time of this writing most trends are positive.  More good news: The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which measures consumer optimism, was 126.1 in October, 126.5 in November and 126.5 in December. (4) The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment gauge rose from 95.5 in October to 96.8 in November to 99.3 in December. (5)

During the Fourth Quarter of 2019 Congress passed and the President signed a new law that will affect retirement plans in America.  It’s called SETTING UP EVERY COMMUNITY for RETIREMENT (SECURE) ACT.  For those who have not yet attained the age of 70 ½, SECURE changes the age for taking Required Minimum Distributions from their IRAs or other retirement plans to 72.  This affects those who will turn 70 ½ during 2020 or later. 

To Our Clients and Those Who Are Not Yet Our Clients:

Start off the New Year with a fresh look at your investments and your financial plans.  Call us to make an appointment for a complimentary review of your portfolio.  Also, come with your financial planning questions.

At Brimmer Financial, National Securities Corp., our client relationships are the cornerstone of our business.  Our clients aren’t just account numbers.  We place your best interests before our own to develop a strategy that meets your individual financial goals and needs.

HELPING YOU REACH YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS

LOCAL, INDEPENDENT, EXPERIENCED

Brimmer Financial     508-240-0320

Susan Lemieux, Registered Representative, Investment Advisor Representative, Branch Manager

Robert Brimmer, Registered Representative, Investment Advisor Representative, Certified Financial Planner™ professional

Alecia Wright, Registered Representative, BSc Mathematics, University of the West Indies

Disclaimers: The opinions expressed herein are those of Robert Brimmer of Brimmer Financial and are current as of this report’s posting date.  This commentary is general in nature and should not be construed as investment advice.  Opinions are subject to change with market conditions.  The views and strategies may not be suitable for all investors and are not intended to be relied on for legal or tax advice.  Please note that any investment involves risk including loss of principal.  Interest rate risk is the possibility that the value of an investment will decline as the result of an unexpected change of interest rates.  Securities offered through National Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.

Sources: [1] us.spindices.com/indices/equity/sp-500[12/31/19]; [2],[3] investing.com/economic-calendar[12/31/19]; [4] investing.com/economic-calendar/cbconsumer-confidence-48[1/3/20]; [5]tradingeconomics.com/united-states/consumer-confidence [1/3/20]; [6]         

     “If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.”  — Benjamin Franklin (1789) – writer, printer, scientist, inventor, political philosopher, postmaster, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

Dr. Franklin, one of our greatest founding fathers, stated that Argumentum ad Hominem (a type of argument that sidesteps the topic of discussion and instead attacks the character of the opponent in the debate) was not fit for civil discourse.  Sadly, this rhetorical device is used all too often these days.  As the war of the words rages on during this political season in our news media, our economy and securities markets have actually performed surprisingly well.

Our Stock Market – The Dow Jones Industrial Index passed a new milestone, crossing over 27000 for the first time ever, closing up 227 points, at 27088 on July 11, 2019.  The S&P 500 approached its own new milestone, closing at 2999 on the same day.  Looking back to an earlier high, the S&P 500 broke 300 on March 23, 1987.  The S&P 500 index rose 1.19% in the Third Quarter of 2019.

The Economy – The biggest economic news in Q3 was the growing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.  U.S. complaints include China’s ongoing theft of our trade secrets, manipulation of their currency, the yuan, and barriers to our entering their markets.  Trade secrets are protected by our patent laws.  The Chinese ignore these laws by either reverse engineering our products or by hacking into our corporations, blatantly ignoring our patent protection laws.  The Chinese currency, the yuan, can be manipulated by them at any time.  China, being a totalitarian government, ignores the market valuations of their currency to suit their needs.  A lower yuan makes their imports to us cheaper and our exports more expensive to Chinese buyers.  For decades China has taken advantage of other nations by employing trading dishonesty.  In early October President Trump and Vice Premier Liu He met at the White House to discuss an incremental trade agreement.  They began with one step and will continue to meet over time in an effort to conclude an overall trade agreement that would be agreeable to both sides.

Looking Ahead – Our American stock and bond markets have performed well on average over the past ten years.  From the lows of 2009 to the present highs of 2019, the domestic stock markets have rewarded many who held on throughout the decade.  The closing value of the S&P 500 on January 1, 2009 was 865.  The closing value on January 1, 2019 was 2,607.  Those who were winners bought and held on.  Those who day traded might have done better or worse.  In my opinion day trading is exhausting and fraught with danger.   A ten-year positive move is not an anomaly, but it’s not the norm. 

Sue, Alecia and I have considered the historic data and believe this is a good time to review the exposure to risk in our clients’ portfolios.  Consider the probability that stock markets will continue to grow at the same pace they have in the recent past.  The higher it goes and the longer it goes up, the more a decline is a possibility.  Interest rates have stayed very low for a long time.  At the first whiff of inflation interest rates will likely increase.  Increasing interest rates are unfavorable for stocks.  Political winds are increasingly blowing in the direction of higher taxes and more government control.  These two forces are counter to corporate profitability.  Every portfolio should be reviewed at least yearly and rebalanced when necessary.  But perhaps the most important is this…our clients from 2009 are now ten years older.  According to many in the financial advisory community, the older one becomes the less aggressive one should be. 

At Brimmer Financial/National Securities Corp. we have access to the world’s largest money managers, such as Black Rock (the largest manager in the world), Vanguard, Fidelity, Calvert, Eaton Vance, Prudential and most of the well-known managers of mutual funds and exchange traded funds.  The managers with the best long-term performance records and the flexibility to help our clients are the arrows in our quivers.  Our clients have accumulated assets and want these assets to serve them well throughout their lifetimes and to be able to pass on to the next generations their good fortunes.

At Brimmer Financial we help families and small businesses achieve their financial goals.  Our team includes Susan Lemieux, Owner and Manager of Brimmer Financial, RR, IAR; Bob Brimmer, Certified Financial Planner™ professional, RR and IAR; and Alecia Wright RR, B.Sc. Mathematics, University of the West Indies. 

Disclaimers

The opinions expressed herein are those of Robert Brimmer of Brimmer Financial and are current as of this report’s posting date.  This commentary is general in nature and should not be construed as investment advice.  Opinions are subject to change with market conditions.  The views and strategies may not be suitable for all investors and are not intended to be relied on for legal or tax advice.  Please note that any investment involves risk including loss of principal.  Interest rate risk is the possibility that the value of an investment will decline as the result of an unexpected change of interest rates.  Securities offered through National Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.  Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation.